A mural celebrating local legend and longtime business owner Harvey Dean “The Tamale King” has been unveiled in downtown Vernon, TX. The mural is located at the corner of Main and Wilbarger Streets, where Mr. Dean was an ever-present fixture for more than 4 decades.
Born in 1902 in Corsicana, TX, Dean sold thousands of tamales to Vernon residents from 1927 to 1972. His success as an entrepreneur enabled him to put three children through college. Dean retired to Arizona in 1972 and lived there for four years. In 1977, Dean and his wife Mattie moved to Gallup, New Mexico where they resided until his death at the age of 81.
Michael Dean, son of Harvey Dean says, “We are extremely proud and pleased that the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture and the City of Vernon have come together to commemorate our father’s legacy. Harvey Dean had very little formal education but he was taught that if you listen, you can learn. His sister, Roberta Allen, who was also a business owner in Vernon, taught him how to make tamales and he made it his life’s work.”
This mural is the second Art in Public Places sponsored by the Alliance and follows the popular October 2020 installation of the mural honoring Grammy Award winner Roy Orbison.
Lead Artist Ferdine LeBlanc designed the mural celebrating Mr. Dean’s decades-long contributions to the City of Vernon. LeBlanc is the Art in Public Places Project Manager at The Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture and a graduate of Lamar D. Fain College of Fine Arts at MSU Texas. Alliance Teaching Artist Sierra Archer is assisting with the mural installation. Selena Mize, lead artist for the Roy Orbison mural in Vernon, will serve as an advisor on the project.
Wilbarger County Historical Museum
Mr. Dean’s hand-painted pushcart is on view at the Wilbarger County Historical Museum. The museum is dedicated to preserving the history of Vernon and Wilbarger County and is a member of the Regional Museum Network.